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Tragic modern tale that doesn't quite work
on 26 May 2010
This is a thought provoking work, and sometimes so engaging I couldn't put it down, but it also suffers from first novel jitter as the author looses her way in her storytelling. Its also a tale of tragedy, upon tragedy, upon tragedy so this is not for the faint hearted. My mother gave it to me and said she gave up as felt that she already had enough of that in her life, so read this in the knowledge that its also a political statement with the aim of highlighting the injustices brought upon the people of Palestine.
The novel starts in an idyllic world of olive trees and the simple peasant life, a very nostalgic view through the rose tinted glasses of a small child, of warm summers and finding great pleasure in stolen moments alone with her parents or friends. Perhaps too nostalgic as life was also hard and short filled with lots of work and limited rewards other than the pleasures of growing and harvesting. The harmony of our rural dream is shattered by the arrival of global politics, the withdrawal of the British, and bloody events that created the state of Israel from the land of these ancient peasants. The tale is mainly told through the eyes of the daughter, who grows up during the resulting civil war and whose whole life is impacted by the events of the ongoing ''middle east conflict''. The descriptions of the thoughts and emotions of her mother and father were my favourite parts, lovingly describing a parent from a child's perspective, full of emotion and feeling and I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this tale of the family and their twists and turns.
The latter quarter is where I became less interested, and where I believe the book fails, is that its all so tragic, so much suffering, so little joy and whilst that very neatly highlights what may have well happened to a family, some families even many families during this period this is a novel and not a history. In wanting to use the book to tell a political tale I felt the author let her novel suffer, as she made events and her characters fit the history rather than telling the tales alone and allowing the characters to develop fully.
All in all thought provoking, tragic, emotional, absorbing in places, but, not a light subject and much human suffering along the way.